Smith Electric Vehicles U.S. Corporation (SEV U.S. Corp), a Delaware corporation headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., announced its plan to assemble all-electric zero-emission commercial vehicles in Kansas City.
The new assembly plant will be located at a portion of an airline overhaul base at Kansas City International (KCI) Airport and is expected to create 120 jobs by 2010. Production of the first zero-emission commercial trucks is scheduled to begin third quarter of 2009.
SEV U.S. Corp will initially focus its production on battery-electric-powered vehicles for depot-based predictable-route delivery fleets.
"We feel the greatest opportunity to have a major impact on the electric vehicle industry is through fleet operators who utilize commercial vehicles in a depot-based delivery model," said Bryan Hansel, chief executive officer SEV U.S. Corp. "As more truck fleets adopt this technology, it will drive advancements in battery technology, drive down manufacturing costs, and form the foundation of a U.S.-based supply chain that, over time will also significantly reduce the cost of commercial electric vehicles. This will make them a natural choice for fleet managers with a depot-based delivery model."
The SEV U.S. Corp decision to locate the plant in Kansas City represents an initial investment of $10 million in the metro area. The KCI overhaul base was selected for the new assembly plant because of its open configuration and immediate availability. The assembly plant will occupy 80,000 square feet at the overhaul base at start-up and will scale up based on demand. SEV U.S. Corp is also leasing 8,600 square feet of office space at the Ambassador Building at KCI. The company will receive close to $3 million in job training funds and other incentives from the state of Missouri and Kansas City.
SEV U.S. Corp has already received a strong expression of interest from fleet operators and as a result, the company is building a highly scalable assembly operation and supply chain to serve this emerging market. SEV U.S. Corp will begin production using chassis from multiple vehicle manufacturers.
Canteen Vending Services, a national vending company and an operating division of the Compass Group North America based in Charlotte N.C., has already signed a letter of intent with SEV U.S. Corp to purchase some of the first zero-emission vehicles to roll off the assembly line.
Compass Group's Tim Goff, Senior Vice President, Strategic Initiatives said, "Canteen has been proactively seeking, testing and evaluating vehicles with the latest in fuel efficiency and clean technology for adoption into our fleet specs. Smith Electric Vehicles is the first to provide a zero-emissions vehicle that fits our route delivery model. As a key U.S. launch customer, Canteen is delighted to support SEV U.S. Corp and to lead the vending industry in reducing carbon output."
Frito-Lay North America, a division of PepsiCo that is headquartered in Plano, Texas, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company, headquartered in San Francisco, Calif., have also signed on as launch partners.
Through its U.K. partner, The Tanfield Group Plc, SEV U.S. Corp is working with Ford Motor Company to electrify the Ford Transit Connect as a BEV (battery electric vehicle) light-duty van scheduled for production in 2010.
Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president, Global Product Development, said, "We are pleased to be collaborating with SEV U.S. Corp on the first of the battery electric vehicles we will bring to market over the next several years. With the delivery of the battery electric Transit Connect, together we will be delivering a product that will satisfy the needs of fleet customers interested in moving toward electric mobility solutions."